The Federal Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, the Hon. Carla Qualtrough, has stressed that a major focus of the new Canadian Accessibility Act will be on increased economic participation, i.e. employment for persons with disabilities. With employment rates for persons with disabilities under 50% and approx. 1.2 million Canadians with disabilities in poverty and supported through Social Assistance, this priority is not difficult to understand.
However, for workplaces to be more open towards hiring persons with disabilities, they must as a critical first step, be willing to accommodate their own workers who acquire a mental health or physical impairment which places them at risk of losing their employment.
Effective, collaborative and workplace-based Return to Work programs, designed to accommodate injured and disabled workers, regardless of causation, will ultimately also support building a “Workplace Culture of Accommodation”, but this cannot happen without the key workplace partners being on the same team.
In order to support advancing this critical element of workplace collaboration, we brought together key leaders from the academic, employer, and union sectors, and designed a workshop which provides key knowledge, tools and practical experience which we hope will ultimately contribute towards reducing the socio-economic impact of disabling impairments on workers, employers and society through significantly improved Return to Work outcomes.